Justin Watkins

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Dismissed Florida DB John Huggins enters transfer portal

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Given the boot in Gainesville, John Huggins is officially on the hunt for a new college football home.

One of five members of the Florida football program, including four players, accused of violence against women since Dan Mullen took over following the 2017 regular season, Huggins was dismissed by the Gators after allegations surfaced that he choked a 19-year-old female student who had confiscated his cell phone prior to a tutoring session. Just three days later, a UF official has confirmed that the defensive back’s name is now listed in the NCAA transfer database.

Huggins was a three-star member of the Gators’ 2018 recruiting class, rated as the No. 28 safety in the country. He played in the first eight games of his true freshman season before his non-suspension suspension went into effect.

Prior to the off-field issues coming to light, Huggins had been expected to play an expanded role in Florida’s ever-thinning secondary this coming season.

Like Huggins, the other three players accused of violence against women are no longer members of the football program. Two of them — quarterback Jalon Jones (FCS) and defensive back Brian Edwards (Central Michigan) — moved on to other schools after entering the portal, while the third, wide receiver Justin Watkins, is still in the portal after leaving UF in late July “to better my opportunities.”

Florida DB accused of choking female tutor dismissed

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Florida took a pounding in the press this past week with an accumulation of reports pointing out the fact that five members of the football program, including four players, had been accused of violence against women.

The most recent revelation involved John Huggins, who was accused late last year by a female tutor of choking her after the 19-year-old student confiscated the player’s cellphone. For whatever reason, though, the alleged victim declined to pursue charges against Huggins; conversely, the defensive back didn’t play in the last five games of last season after the incident, seemingly serving a previously unreported suspension.

Fast-forward to 2019 and Huggins had remained away from the team since the start of summer camp this month as he continued to deal with what was only being described as a “family situation” that head coach Dan Mullen said was unrelated to the accusations a year ago; that sabbatical will apparently become permanent, however, as it’s now being reported that Huggins has been dismissed from the Gators.

Huggins was a three-star member of the Gators’ 2018 recruiting class, rated as the No. 28 safety in the country.  He played in the first eight games of his true freshman season before his non-suspension suspension went into effect.

Prior to the off-field issues coming to light, Huggins had been expected to play an expanded role in Florida’s ever-thinning secondary this coming season.

As for the other incidents involving members of the UF program since Mullen took over?

Florida now up to five Gators accused of violence against women during Dan Mullen’s tenure

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Regardless of how it may be parsed, this isn’t a good look.  At all.

We have already known about four different instances of some type of violence against women allegedly perpetrated by members of the Florida football program since Dan Mullen took over as head coach.  As noted by the Tampa Bay Times, that number is now up to five as defensive back John Huggins was accused late last year by a female tutor of choking her.

From the Times:

In October, a 19-year-old student accused Huggins of choking her during a tutoring session, according to a police report obtained this week by the Tampa Bay Times and other news outlets. Huggins was upset, the report alleges, because the tutor took his phone to make sure he would stay for the entire session (which she said Huggins often failed to do).

The woman had previously been made uncomfortable because Huggins pulled her hair in an earlier tutoring session, according to the report.

For whatever reason, the alleged victim declined to pursue charges against Huggins.  The defensive back didn’t play in the last five games of last season after the incident, seemingly serving a previously unreported suspension.

The ugly accusations serve as yet another off-field black eye for Mullen’s squad.

“We do a lot. How many of them were actually charged?” Mullen said, by way of 247Sports.com, when asked about the Huggins situation Tuesday. “Part of it is also, there’s a lot out there with women. Now we do a lot of education with our team on that stuff. Obviously, I’m a big anti-violence-against-women person. I’m also a person that I really want to have all the information as I make decisions on what happens in different situations.

“That’s one of the toughest deals, because it’s a jump to conclusion on every detail that happens sometimes.”

Huggins remains away from the team as he continues to deal with what’s only being described as a “family situation” that Mullen says is unrelated to the accusations a year ago.

Twice-arrested 2018 signee leaves Florida ‘to better my opportunities’

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This is… ummm… something.

Earlier this week, 2018 Florida signee Justin Watkins was arrested and booked into the Alachua County Jail Tuesday on four charges, including a pair of third-degree felonies (false imprisonment/kidnapping and domestic battery by strangulation) as well as two misdemeanors (first-degree battery). According to the police report, Watkins pinned his girlfriend to a bed, punched her with a closed fist and choked her three times.

That was Watkins’ second arrest in two months as he was charged with misdemeanor trespassing on school grounds after a verbal argument with an unidentified female turned violent as Watkins shattered the woman’s cellphone, kicked her vehicle and attempted to let the air out of her tires.

With his future in Gainesville very much up in the air — he was indefinitely suspended from all team activities after the second arrest — Watkins took to Twitter Friday morning to announce that he is leaving the University of Florida. “To better my opportunities,” the true freshman wrote with seemingly no sense of self-awareness whatsoever.

(Writer’s note: the tweet has since been deleted, but here’s a handy screen snap for reference.)

A four-star member of the Gators’ 2018 recruiting class, Watkins was rated as the No. 16 wide receiver in the country; the No. 20 player at any position in the state of Florida; and the No. 89 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Only three players in UF’s class signed this past February were rated higher than Watkins.

Watkins had recently enrolled in classes at UF.

Disturbing details emerge in latest arrest of 2018 Florida signee

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The charges in and of themselves were disturbing enough.  Now, with the details surrounding them having emerged, a nauseating situation in Gainesville has gotten even more disturbing.

Reports emerged yesterday that 2018 Florida signee Justin Watkins was arrested and booked into the Alachua County Jail Tuesday on four charges, including a pair of third-degree felonies (false imprisonment/kidnapping and domestic battery by strangulation) as well as two misdemeanors (first-degree battery).  While no details were available at the time, a University of Florida Police Department arrest report, obtained by the Gainesville Sun, lays out a scenario involving Watkins and his girlfriend that makes one wonder why the player was simply suspended instead of being summarily dismissed.

From the Sun:

On the late afternoon of July 20, police say Watkins struck his 18-year-old girlfriend with an open and closed fist on both sides of her head and on her shoulders while holding her down on a dorm room bed.

He got on top of her, pinning her to the bed again, the report says, wrapped his hands around her neck and choked her three times, once for 15 seconds and twice for about eight seconds.

Police say Watkins knew that she has asthma.

Police say he confined her to the room by standing in the doorway and blocking the exit.

She said, “I want to leave,” and, “Get out of the way,” the report says. When she tried to leave, he grabbed her hair and belt, yanking her back into the room.

The alleged victim ultimately got away by spraying mace in Watkins’ face and running out of the apartment.  Watkins allegedly continued the assault by chasing after the woman and throwing a pair of items — a wooden brush and container of hair grease, per the police report — at her that struck her on the hand.

As of late Wednesday morning, Watkins remains jailed.  It remains to be seen whether these details being released publicly will prompt and/or force the university to take further action against Watkins, who head coach Dan Mullen announced Tuesday had “been suspended immediately from all activities.”

This was Watkins’ second arrest for violence against a female in two months.

In early May, Watkins, prior to enrolling at UF but after signing with the university, was arrested on one count of misdemeanor trespassing on school grounds.  It’s alleged in that incident that a verbal argument between Watkins and an unidentified female turned violent as Watkins shattered the woman’s cellphone, kicked her vehicle and attempted to let the air out of her tires.

It’s unknown if the female victim in that incident is the same as the victim in this latest situation.

A four-star member of the Gators’ 2018 recruiting class, Watkins was rated as the No. 16 wide receiver in the country; the No. 20 player at any position in the state of Florida; and the No. 89 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Only three players in UF’s class signed this past February were rated higher than Watkins.

Watkins recently enrolled in classes at UF.